Maurine Brown brings a love for farming and “hard work” to her new role as the leader of the new Zebulon farmer’s market
Q: You have been named the manager for Zebulon’s new farmer’s market. How did the market get started?
A: “We have had a lot of interest in the farmer’s market (Zebulon Farm Fresh Market). We are going to be open May 2 at the Zebulon Community Center. The town applied for a grant from the John Rex Endowment. The monies were for towns who wanted to supplement their markets, or to start one. With the money Zebulon received to start the farmer’s market, we are also going to apply some of that money for a greenway project. I applied for the job and was lucky enough to get it.”
Q: Has there been a lot of interest so far?
A: “There has been a huge amount of interest in it. People are really getting excited. At present, we already have 12 vendors.”
Q: What will customers see when they arrive at the market?
A: “There will be, of course, fruit and veggies – strawberries, various plants and produce, bee products, goat meat, also called chevon, goat cheese, eggs, homemade soaps and balms, baked goods, canned relish and salsa. There will just be something for everyone. I know I am probably leaving something out.”
Q: What if there is someone who still wants to sign up for a booth. Are there openings?
A: “Of course, you can still sign up.”
Q: There is a huge push now for ‘rural meeting urban,’ so to speak. People are interested in organic, natural products. Chickens are now allowed in the city limits of some towns. Beekeeping is very popular. Are you a farm girl yourself?
A: “Oh yes. I grew up in Wilson. I lived in Wendell for about 15 years and I recently moved to just outside Zebulon. I graduated from Fike High School in Wilson. My parents lived in Wilson but we had a farm in nearby Stantonsburg. I have always considered myself a farm girl. My dad raised cattle on the farm. I am a worker. I just like to work. I am a workaholic that doesn’t mind a little physical labor. I was a part of 4-H growing up and we would show steers in Wilson County. I love being outside.”
Q: So did you want to become a farmer?
A: “In high school, I had dreams of becoming a veterinarian. After high school, I then went on to N.C. State. I did not go on to become a vet but I did major in animal science. I was on the dairy judging team when I was at N.C. State.”
Q: So if you did not become a vet, what career path led you to eastern Wake?
A: “After I graduated from State, I worked at a commercial hog farm. After that, I worked at N.C. State at the swine educational unit. I taught the students about the pigs. I was there for three years. I then worked for a small firm that did pre-clinical research with drugs. With pre-clinical research, that is when you test drugs on animals. Clinical research is when drugs are tested on humans. I know some people don’t like testing on animals but the drugs have to be tested somewhere before the testing is done on humans. I worked there for about three years and then I took off a few years after my daughter was born. I then worked for seven years at a lab in Research Triangle Park but then I got laid off because of downsizing. And now I am the manager of the upcoming Farmer’s Market and I am really excited – I think it will be great.”
Q: And aren’t you a farmer yourself? Will you be selling any products?
A: “We do have a farm outside Zebulon and we raise miniature dairy goats. People are surprised to find that out about me. We have about 20 goats. And we milk them everyday (laughing). We also make goat cheese. I will not be selling that because we would have to be a grade B dairy. There are hoops to jump through to get that licensing. Milk can be dangerous to consume. Lots of checks and balances so dairy farmers have to be really careful with what they sell. And our little goats have done very well at the State Fair. We have won a couple of blue ribbons. We have some champions in that little herd (laughing).”
Correspondent Dena Coward